Dairy farm on St. Croix bluff earns Chisago County conservation award

More than a decade of work has helped the family farm reduce runoff into the river.




3 minute read

Via Chisago Soil & Water Conservation District:

Pictured: Nancy Mallery, Jeff and Karla Mallery with children Eddie,  Tommy & Libbie (Photo courtesy Chisago Soil & Water Conservation District)

One of only a handful of operating dairy farms in Chisago County, Mallery Jerseys has been an integral part of protecting the water quality of the St. Croix River.  The 485-acre farm is located along the escarpment of the St. Croix River, arguably Minnesota’s most precious large river in the state.  The St. Croix River is federally designated as a National Scenic Riverway for its pristine waters and undeveloped shorelines.

William and Agnes Mallery moved to the farm in Shafer in the 1950s, where they raised their five children-Joe, Bill, Rose, Mary, and Bonnie.  In the 1970s, Joe and Bill took over the main operations of the farm and their families continue the family tradition to this day, milking 250 head along with 80 dry cows, 140 heifers, and 130 calves, and farming nearly 700 acres.

Even with a never-ending chores list on the farm, Bill, Joe and Jeff (Joe’s son) placed a high importance on conservation.  In 2009, the Mallerys started an impressive schedule of implementing conservation practices.  Working with the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District, the Mallery’s have implemented buffers, diversions, water and sediment control basins, and grade stabilizations to fix gullies and reduce erosion.  Beginning in 2017, they began focusing on building soil health through no-till management, conservation crop rotation, and planting cover crops.  In 2018, the Mallerys went through the complex process of creating and implementing a Nutrient Management Plan and have since installed a stacking slab and vegetative treatment areas.

This year, Mallery Jerseys achieved the special designation as a certified farm through the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).  A farm is scored on a scale of 1-10 based on their farming practices and operations, with a score of 8 or higher required to achieve certification.

“Mallery Jerseys is exactly what the MAWQCP is intended for-to recognize and reward the guys that are already doing great conservation work, or working with farms that just need a few more points to reach certification.  The amount of stuff they already do and all the practices they’ve put in over the years-they easily scored high.”  Ryan Clark, a MAWQCP technician, has worked with nearly 75 farms on the certification process and says, “this was one of my favorites.  I was really glad to be able to work with them and get the certification for them because they really deserve it.”

The Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District agreed and have named Mallery Jerseys as the 2020 Outstanding Conservationists in Chisago County. 

“They have probably been worthy of Outstanding Conservationist the past couple years, but with the cumulation of all they’ve done and now getting certified, it was no question for our Board-Mallery Jerseys are the epitome of Outstanding Conservationists and people should know it,” said Craig Mell, District Administrator for Chisago SWCD.  “Joe (who passed away in July), Bill (who retired from the family farm in January), and Jeff and the rest of the family, they have worked hard, and I think they should be in the running for the top Conservationists in the state.”

An Outstanding Conservationist(s) is named annually by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, chosen among the awardees from each SWCD.  Due to COVID-19, the award for this year has been postponed until next year, but Craig Mell is “confident – they definitely deserve it.  I’m excited to see what next year brings!”


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Dairy farm on St. Croix bluff earns Chisago County conservation award